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Saturday, February 25, 2012

The NFL Combine Offers More of the Business Side of Professional Football

One of Google’s top trends of late includes the NFL Combine where college-level football players are invited to run, side step, jump and prove themselves to NFL recruiters—via their agents of course. An Internet search will find you a plethora of stories from the NFL, ESPN and posts on combine events dedicated to showoff these players—much like meat at the grocery store.

One video I saw was posted on the NFL.com where insider Mike Lombardi (who changed his last name to Lombardi because he thought it sounded cool) talked about the 2012 combine. Oh, a quick side note: I did try and find out what Lombardi’s last name used to be, but I couldn’t find it. I am, however, a Tivo-must-watch “Inside the NFL” fan (Showtime) where he often appears and do have a taped episode from a while back where he said, “Yeah I changed my last name.” Dude, you’re no Vince Lombardi!

On the other hand, Mike Lombardi has been in and out of NFL management and most of the time, the predictions he makes are pretty accurate and who am I to say he can’t change his name. Look at Chad Ochocinco? But again, as always, I digress!

NFL Combine – Big Business

Mr. Lombardi pointed out the combine gets a lot of press for being the end all for team recruiters. But he also pointed out, at combines, recruiters get to see body shapes (without football uniforms), a little running and maybe a throw or two from a potential QB but that’s about it.

What recruiters and team owners are missing is how they react once dressed, in uniform against other potential athletes and this is an important element in choosing players. The body may look nice outside but, well, “you can’t judge a book by its cover!”

Still, agents entice these recruiters with their wares (players) and I’m sure these agents and the venues where combines are held offer team recruiters all sorts of extra stuff—it’s big business.

They say Tom Brady had a horrible combine experience but look at him now. Too bad he plays for Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Since “Spygate” where Belichick spied on another team, the Pats haven’t won a Super Bowl and probably never will. I do believe in that old saying, cheaters never win!

I’m not saying money is passed to these recruiters and their teams (cough, cough), but the gifts and incentives like luxurious hotel rooms and full days of spa treatment for their nieces—er I mean wives costs money! What about those five-star restaurants the recruiters chow down at each night of the combine?

I’m not sure if all of this is “legal” or “illegal” as far as NFL rules go, but what is important is teams shouldn’t rely only on the combine to choose their players.

Typical Agent Enticement

Agent Joe: Bill, dude! How are you? Man did you seem my man LaQuell? He’s got it all and he graduated top in his class!

Recruiter Bill: Yeah? Which one is he out there?

Agent Joe: Aw, you just missed him, but here are some head shots! I also have a little video on my HTC Droid Incredible for you to watch!

Recruiter Bill: Are you kidding me? I want to see the guy move, what’s his body type?

Agent Joe: Howwas that Delmonico steak last night? Did your niece (er I mean wife) like that diamond bracelet? I bet it goes great with those new silk ties we left in the Presidential Suite!

Recruiter Bill: Now you’re talking Joe! What’s your guy’s name again?

Agent Joe: LaQuell man, you’ll love him, he’s an asset!

Recruiter Bill: Let me give my general manager a call but let’s consider it a “done” deal between you and me!

Agent Joe: Great Bill, great and you tell your GM you and I don’t want to see him cut after the draft!

Recruiter Bill: Won’t happen Joe—you think you can spit some more perks my way?

Agent Joe: You want to go to the Grand Caymans? Hawaii? You name the place.

Recruiter Bill: I love Hawaii and so does my niece—er I mean my wife!

Agent Joe: You got it Bill, see you tomorrow, I got another kid to show you!

Recruiter Bill: For sure Joe, absolutely!

If That’s Not Business What Is?

So there’s a lot of risky business that comes with the combines but in the end, who gets hurt? If the agent works real hard and has access to many perks, the new kid may have a future—but he still has to prove himself—but that’s better than being cut before the season starts. Often millions of dollars are offered to find out the guy just doesn’t have what it takes.

Businesses do this too. You wash my back, I’ll wash yours.

I can’t help wondering about poor Tim Tebow. Apparently he left his combine considerations up to the Lord because he’s really not all that great and well, he wouldn’t have been involved in anything this sneaky would he? Hmmm?

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